Counter-guerrilla Operations in the Philippines, 1946-1953
A Seminar on the Huk Campaign Held at Ft. Bragg, N.C. 15 June 1961
I. "Introductory Comments on the Campaign," by Brig. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale, USAF, who served as JUSMAG liaison with Secretary of National Defense Ramon Magsaysay in the campaign.
II. "The Communist Huk Enemy," by Colonel Ismael Lapus, AFP, who served as G-2, Armed Forces of the Philippines, at the critical period of the Huk campaign.
III. "Military Operations," by Colonel Napoleon Valeriano, AFP-Ret., who commanded the Nenita Unit and the 7th BCT during the campaign.
IV. "Combat Intelligence," by Major Medardo Justiniano, AFP, who conducted special operations for the Nenita Unit and was S-2 of the 7th BCT.
V. "Unconventional Warfare," by Major Charles Bohannan, USAR, who was JUSMAG advisor to the AFP on unconventional operations at critical phases of the campaign.
Before describing the military operations, special mention must be made of the Military Intelligence Service. This organization performed remarkably. Today the MIS has identified more than 90% of the persons engaged actively or secretly in the Communist movement. It has succeeded in identifying the various regional commands and subordinate units. Using Communist tactics, it has infiltrated the Communist organization. ... The arm of military intelligence was further strengthened by the so-called Peace Fund. ... Substantial rewards up to sixty-five thousand dollars in the case of top leaders were offered for the capture, dead or alive, of any of the leaders of the Communist movement. Hand in hand with the mounting military campaign against the Communist field commanders, these rewards caused consternation among these leaders. Their distrust of their followers came to a point where each of these leaders with a price on his had to surround himself with an elite bodyguard composed only of the most trusted followers. The Philippine Experience in Combatting Communist Subversion, Feb. 23, 1955
The CIA's success in crushing the peasant-based Huk rebellion in the 1950s made this operation the model for future counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam and Latin America. Colonel Lansdale and his Filipino sidekick, Col. Napoleon Valeriano were later to use their counterguerrilla experience in the Philippines for training covert operatives in Vietnam and in the US-administered School of the Americas, which trained counterguerrilla assassins for Latin America. Thus, the Philippines had become the CIA's prototype in successful covert operations and psychological warfare.
After his stint in the Philippines using propaganda, psywar and deception against the Huk movement, Lansdale was then assigned in Vietnam to wage military, political and psychological warfare. It was Lansdale's view that the tactics that he used to solve the problem in the Philippines were applicable to Vietnam. He was wrong. In 1975, after two decades of protracted warfare, the Vietnamese people defeated the strongest superpower on earth.Covert Operations and the CIA's Hidden History in the Philippines, Roland G. Simbulan, Convenor/Coordinator, Manila Studies Program, University of the Philippines (Lecture at the University of the Philippines-Manila, Rizal Hall, Padre Faura, Manila, August 18, 2000.) [offsite]
1290d and OISP Programs
Perceptions of Third World nations as susceptible to communist subversion and revolutionary warfare led the Eisenhower administration to formulate a coordinated internal security strategy known simply as '1290d'. Later renamed the Overseas Internal Security Program (OISP), this policy initiative sought to strengthen host nation security forces, judicial systems, and public information media in an effort to combat indirect communist intervention strategies. Implementing OISP policy in Latin America proved difficult. In Congress, the administration was criticised for colluding with dictatorial regimes. while Latin Americans feared that the new program would be used as a 'Trojan Horse' to penetrate their security structures. After the Cuban Revolution, however, OISP policies developed under Eisenhower came to dominate US-Latin American security relations for the remainder of the Cold War.An American Trojan Horse? Eisenhower, Latin America, and the Development of US Internal Security Policy 1954-1960, By Dennis M. Rempe, Small Wars and Insurgencies, Spring 1999
Philippine campaign recommended as model for Colombia
The Department will note that I suggested that the Colombian authorities might profit in their effort to suppress the violence prevalent in the country from the experience which the Philippine and Malayan authorities have had with similar problems.
I said that both in the Philippines and in Malaya great progress had been made in wiping out guerrillas, and although they had not been entirely eliminated they were no longer the grave problem they once had been. I suggested that it might be advantageous for the Colombian Government to send an official or a mission to study Philippine and Malayan experiences on the spot.
General Rengifo seemd to be very interested in this suggestion and said he supposed that the mission should be composed of military officers. I said that it might be wise to include some civilians, since I believed that the Philippines and Malayans had combatted guerrillas by resettlement and rehabilitation as well as with arms.Memorandum of Conversation with Brigadier Pioquinto RENGIFO, Minister of Gobierno, Regarding the Guerrilla Warfare, January 16, 1958
With reference to Despatch No. 597, the Embassy has now received copies of "The Hukbakahaps", OIR Report No. 5209, dated September 27, 1950, and Intelligence Report No. 6627, "Philippine Communism from 1952 to 1955", dated March 15, 1955, as well as Manilla's Despatch No. 625 dated January 6, 1955, subject: "Visit to Armed Forces Economic Corps (EDCOR) Project at Kapatagan, Lanao, October 21-22, 1954". I should like to hand these three classified documents to the Minister of Gobierno, but since they are classified and this was done by other officers, I feel that I should secure the Department's specific permission before handing them over.Guerrilla Warfare in Colombia, January 30, 1958
List of Reports by the Special Operations Research Office of the American University, Operating Under Contract With the Department of the Army, May 1963 Winning the Cold War: The US Ideological Offensive, Hearings before the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives.
The deliberate (and nominally selective) use of terror in psychological operations -- what Colonel Lansdale called "tactical psywar" -- figured prominently in the 1960s reassessment of Philippine tactics by the U.S. counterinsurgency establishment. ...
"Few weapons have quite the same effect on guerrilla morale as a pair of ice picks lashed together, used to puncture a guerrilla jugular, if the guerrilla is left for his companions to pick up. Next in effectiveness is a well- presented bayonet."
The Philippine paramilitary option, then a seemingly effective deployment of civilian irregular forces, left a clear mark on subsequent American doctrine and provided prototypes for U.S.- sponsored counterinsurgency programs around the world in the 1960s. Counterinsurgency studies stressed that paramilitary organization could significantly increase the manpower available where regular forces were few in number, that the systems were cost-effective; that they released regular forces for aggressive patrolling by undertaking static defense duties; and that they had enormous political potential, taking counterinsurgency to the grass roots and making the population part of the defense effort. The intermeshing of regular and irregular forces, a hallmark of such systems, was of particular relevance to today's constellation of paramilitary forces (not least in the Philippines) and their role in government counterinsurgency strategies
The general adaptation of World War II psy-war techniques for home consumption, the legitimation of "dirty tricks" and terror tactics in counterinsurgency, and above all the premise that insurgency justified and required the unrestricted tactics of unconventional warfare were further principal lessons of the Philippines experience. The Philippine experience, indeed, returns at every juncture to a lesson that guerrillas are best fought by guerrillas, or, more appropriately, by the government forces using irregular tactics that Bohannan and Valeriano dubbed "quasi-guerrillas." This and most of the Philippine approach to counterinsurgency would be duly absorbed, first in the U.S. Army's Special Forces training and doctrine, to appear in 1961 in the army's mainstream doctrine of counterinsurgency. Most of its precepts remain intact in American counterinsurgency doctrine today.Toward a New Counterinsurgency: Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam.
Kennedy was not content to rely on the covert stratagems of the CIA; rather, he was determined to wage the Cold War on a far broader front. While the CIA retained its paramilitary role, despite the turn of events at the Bay of Pigs, the regular armed forces were charged with taking up the paramilitary, unconventional cudgel of the Cold War in ways almost unthinkable before. The Eisenhower emphasis on offensive, unconventional, covert war against undesirable governments was matched by Kennedy's overt and covert war against the internal enemies of friendly governments. This latter task, the counterinsurgency dimension of political warfare, became a principal public plank of Kennedy's foreign policy. The Kennedy Crusade: A Dynamic National Strategy To Defeat the Communists.
The two excerpts above are from Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism, 1940-1990, by Michael McClintock, 1992.
If governments or independent groups become frustrated over their inability to negate offensive terror by legal means, they may resort to the employment of violence to counter violence.
The fundamental problem with defensive terror is that violence begets more violence and the general population usually becomes antagonistic toward government because of this consequence.
Creation of adaptive and responsible institutions provide government with its most effective psychological weapon against violence. Assuming such organizations provide the basis for peaceful constructive change, the perpetrators of violence cannot justify their methods to a target populace. In fact, history has proven that the urban guerrilla cannot long survive in an environment where popular political, economic, or social aspirations can be achieved by non-violent methods.
Subversion and social unrest thrives on the inability of a nation to modernize existing private or governmental institutions in a manner which will facilitate the effective, peaceful resolution of intolerable conditions. It is therefore essential that government assure that there is an adaptive organizational basis for reform, modernization and progressive change.Counterterrorist Program Primer. Document found in the "CIA Computer" on third floor of National Archives at College Park, MD.
Defensive terror is the employment of violence against the offensive terrorists. This may be overtly or covertly undertaken by a target government, or it may be employed by independent groups who are in opposition to terrorist forces and objectives. The key to defensive terror is intelligence collection and collation for the purpose of identifying the principal personalities and action elements of a terrorist movement. Overt, covert or semi-covert operations may then be mounted to eliminate violently terrorist cadre, functionaries and supporting mechanisms.
Counterterror is often mistaken for defensive terror to which it is only remotely related. The technique of counterterror employs intelligence to identify terrorists who are then neutralized by organized government forces within accepted parameters of justice within the law.Defeating Urban Violence. Document found in the "CIA Computer" on third floor of National Archives at College Park, MD.
The routine practice of terrorism - or counter-terrorism - at the service of the state came to dominate the application of counterinsurgency doctrine in Central America. In practice, the reformist components of counter-insurgency theory were largely cosmetic. Great importance was given to the ground level application of both counter-organization and counter-terror which, including selective assassination on a large scale, was considered expedient and legitimate. It was justified both on the grounds that it was employed by the guerrillas, and on the quasi-moral grounds that it was it short-term tactic designed to end a conflict as rapidly as possible. In the long run it was expected to save lives.
Counter-insurgent terrorism in practice, however, proved not to be short term, and neither a simple nor particularly low cost answer to insurgency. Easy to start, it was difficult to stop and impossible to moderate; even a minimum of terrorism tended to escalate.
One of the principal arguments of this book is that prolonged state terrorism in Central America, as elsewhere, provokes and sustains mass resistance. "Meeting Terror With Terror": a Policy of Failure, in The American Connection, by Michael McClintock.
Thanks to Cyn Hayden, Connie Moralez, and Erdie Picart at the U.S. Army
Special Warfare Center and School, Ft. Bragg for their help with this research.
Copyright Paul Wolf, 2002-2004. No copyright to original government works.